Virginity and First-Time Sex: Ready or Not?
Sometimes it seems like "everyone" your age is having sex. Forget It! What other people do doesn't matter. Only you can answer the question: Is this the right time for me?
Asking questions of yourself and your partner, talking to people with experience, getting prepared and understanding what the first time might be like can help you decide whether you are ready for sex. What won't help you is making the choice while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or pressure from a partner or peers.
What are your own attitudes toward sex, and what do you really know? Getting to the heart of that answer can be harder than it seems. Figure out how you feel first, even before you talk to your partner. As a guide, run through the following questions and write down your responses.
- What do you know about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
- What do you know about pregnancy?
- Do you know how to lower the chance of pregnancy and STIs?
- Can you and your partner talk openly about sex, and prevention of pregnancy, STIs and HIV?
- How does having sex fit in with your personal values?
- How does sex fit in with the values of your culture, family and religion?
- Do you trust and respect your partner?
- Does your partner trust and respect you?
- Do you or your partner feel pressured about sex?
- What will you and your partner do if sex results in pregnancy and/or disease?
If you can't talk with your partner about pregnancy, birth control and/or STI protection, trust, respect, your likes and your dislikes, you aren't ready. If you and your partner are not sure about how you like to be touched and your likes and dislikes, you aren't ready.
Having sex for the first time can be a wonderful experience, but only when you are ready.
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Talk With Your Partner
Once you know your own mind, you need to be able to discuss sex -- and whether or not to have it -- openly and confidently with your partner. Both of you must feel this is the right time to introduce sex into your relationship and reach that decision without any pressure. And you must be able to agree on issues such as birth control and STI prevention.
Talk with your partner about the following areas.
Feelings About Sex Sample questions:
- Do you and your partner both want to have sex?
- Do you both feel ready and prepared to have sex?
- How will having sex affect your relationship?
- How will having sex affect your values?
- Do you feel any pressure or concerns about sex?
Talking about sexual history is difficult for many people -- but it's very important. You and your partner need trust each other in order to be honest about sexual history. Be open and truthful with your partner, and express your need for the same from him or her. Be supportive if your partner has had an STI and take the time to better understand his or her situation.
- Have you and your partner had previous partners? If so, was protection from STIs used?
- If you or your partner has had sex, have you been tested for STIs? If so when? (Please note that HIV may take up to six months to show up in a blood sample. Genital warts may take up to eight months to be detectable. Read the STI section for more information.
- Have you or your partner had a STI? If so, which one and what was the treatment?
Only abstinence is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs. You and your partner need to discuss what you will do in case of pregnancy or STI transmission. You also need to discuss how having sex will affect your relationship.
- What if you or your partner becomes pregnant?
- What if you or your partner acquires an STI?
- What if you break up?
What do you hope for during and after the big event? You or your partner may have opposite wishes for the first time -- from just getting it over with to making love. Make sure you are on the same page. Also discuss what you expect afterwards: Do you want to be held? Do you want sex to continue in your relationship? Do you want an exclusive relationship?
- Do you and your partner expect to continue having sex with each other?
- What do you want sex to be like?
- Do you and your partner want to have sex exclusively with each other (be monogamous)?
- What if one of you has sex with another person?
- Do you or your partner expect marriage or a lifetime commitment?
- Are you and/or your partner in love?
There are many ways to reduce the risk of pregnancy and STIs, and finding the method that fits you best is like finding a good pair of jeans. Some people prefer condoms (the best protection for penis-to-anus or penis-to-vagina protection), while others prefer other protection methods. Talk with your partner about your choices.
Oral Sex: Many overlook the fact that it is possible to get a STI from oral sex. Don't forget to talk about protection and oral sex.
- Is there a birth control and/or STI protection method that you prefer?
- How do you feel about using condoms?
- How important to you is STI protection?
- How important to you is pregnancy protection?
- Do you know how to use the method you plan to use?
- Can you show each other or explain to each other how it works?
- Who will pay for the birth control/STI prevention method?
- Will you help each other use the method?
It is not uncommon for one partner to want to stop having sex during the first time, perhaps from pain, nerves, or insecurity. If you or your partner needs to stop, you have the right to do so even if you are in the middle of having sex. You both need to be prepared ahead of time. Discuss it, and discuss not blaming each other or feeling guilty if one of you wants to stop. Watch for your partner's body language during sex. If your partner looks uncomfortable, ask about it.
- How will you feel if you need to stop during sex?
- Would you be open to discussing what happened?
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Talk to Others
The decision over whether to have sex or not is ultimately up to you and your partner. However, it's a big decision -- and it's helpful for many to seek out the advice or others to help them in this choice. Here are a few sources you might want to ask:
- Older sister(s) or brother(s)
- Older friends
- Priest, rabbi or pastor
- Close relative or neighbor
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